Back in March, Jamie and I set aside the night before the packers came as the time to pack up our things that we planned to take in our cars to Arizona. We planned to put all of said things in our master bathroom and then tape a sign to that door saying “do not pack”. We’d basically just be packing like we would for a 10 day vacation, right?
Simple. We’re so good at this moving thing.
Funny joke! That Sunday night officially went down in the record books as one of the most stressful nights in our marriage so far. We laugh really hard about it now because we had no clue what we were doing, and the house turned into a disaster zone! The packer-prep turned into so much more than just packing up our clothes and toiletries. We’d completely underestimated all of the things that the movers wouldn’t take – food in the pantry, cleaning supplies, several things in the garage, etc. We also had a 3.5 month old baby who wouldn’t let us fully focus on packing until she went to bed (imagine that!). I think we hit the hay sometime around 1 a.m., but we were still no where close to prepped for the packers. It was quite the night.
We’ve learned a little bit since then and have been doing “packer prep” for about a week now in anticipation for Thursday.
Because this is only our second big PCS move (third official), I reached out to some of my military wife blogger friends who have quite a bit of experience with this moving biz and asked them for their best moving tips! Their tips are helpful for not only military moves, but big family moves in general. After you’ve read their tips, I hope you jump on over to their sites and take a look around. These are great girls!
Alex from Munchkins and the Military
- We’ve always had really great packers. On a recent PCS we printed out sheets that said, “DO NOT PACK,” and used them to block off the rooms that we didn’t want touched. We also taped off an area on the floor and put the “DO NOT PACK” sheets around it. That way, we could keep stuff like our trash can out in the common area where it was usable without having to worry about it getting packed away.
- We’ve learned that when moving CONUS (staying in the states), it’s always best to do a partial DITY (do-it-yourself) move, even if you don’t plan on taking much yourself. This way, the military will pay for your gas, which doesn’t happen otherwise (normally you get per diem + mileage). Plus, you’re always going to end up with some extras in your vehicle, whether it’s suitcases full of essentials or even the liquids and other items that the movers wouldn’t take. Might as well get paid for the weight that you’re moving.
- When the movers are packing up the boxes, ask them to put specific details of the contents on the outside of the box. Usually, they’re pretty good about this, but if not, you can ask them to do this for you. Unloading and unpacking will be easier when the boxes tell you what’s inside. Examples: Master Bedroom – Her’s – Night Stand Contents; Hall Closet – Stuffed Animals & Books; Kitchen – Plastic Baby Bottles/Bowls.
Elizabeth from The Young Retiree (She just moved to Japan! Way cool.)
- On PCSing overseas, there is tons of advice out there to be given. People will jump at the bit to tell you how amazing or how horrible their experiences were. My advice to you: live your experience. Go through whatever emotions you’re feeling! Are you scared to death of PCSing overseas? That’s okay! There will be people there to help you with the adjustment, and an OCONUS PCS is a big deal! It’s definitely normal to be a little frightened! Are you over the moon thrilled to be PCSing overseas? That’s awesome! Explore, invite new friends from base who might be a little more nervous about heading out in town, and embrace this new adventure!
- Demand a sponsor who will advocate for you. Your sponsor should be replying to emails, answering questions, and calming your fears. If they aren’t, reach out to the proper people within the command, explain, and request a sponsor who is more up to the task.
- Think about what you’ll need overseas. We had a limited weight for our HHGs (I think it was only 20% of our HHG limit). As a result, we donated anything we couldn’t remember using within the last year and couldn’t pinpoint a need for. I’m talking about the 20+ napkin rings for all those nights I was going to set the table & hadn’t in my 5 years of marriage!
- Pack your suitcases before the movers come! We ended up sending three tuff boxes and four large flat rate boxes ahead of us. We then had to hold all of those things in temporary lodging and move them in our tiny foreign car!
- While you’re living in temporary lodging, please, I beg you, understand that there are others in crazy situations just like you are, and try to act accordingly. There are kids who are going crazy being cooped up, there are service members already checked in to their new command standing watch or pulling night shifts and they might be sleeping during the day, and there are pets just as sick of being there as their humans.
- Get involved and enjoy your time overseas! If you’re living on base, go off on the weekends or afternoons! Stop by the ITT office and see if they have tours. In Okinawa, they offer a 10% discount your first 90 days on island on select tours! Shop on the economy, and don’t be afraid to try new foods: we’ve had major success and major gross outs, but they’ve all been fun experiences we’ll never forget!
Chelsea from Making Home Base
- Plan out your cross country move. We’ve done the cross country drive about five times now, so we’ve got it down pat. When preparing for a cross country move, be sure to plan out your route ahead of time. The military gives you plenty of time to make the trip so be sure to enjoy it. We always look up landmarks and best restaurants along the way. Doing this can turn a dreaded road trip into a fun vacation.
- In regards to housing, if you plan to live on base (or post for you Army folks) be sure to call the housing office as soon as you receive orders. Sometimes they will get you on the waiting list as soon as you have orders and other times they make you wait until you have officially detached. To reduce time spent in a hotel, definitely call ahead!
Elizabeth from The Blooming Air Force Bride
Check the climate of your new location and prepare yourself, your family, and your car. Sometimes you have to winterize (or summarize?) your car.
Inventory your belongings. There are horror stories everywhere about things getting lost or stolen. Make an inventory (including serial numbers) of items you don’t want to lose (or everything for that matter).
Traveling with dogs? Book your hotel in advance after you make sure it accepts dogs. Some hotels only have a certain amount of rooms that they’ll allow visitors with animals to stay in. And some charge a lot for dogs to stay. La Quinta allows dogs to stay FREE!
Livia from All Things Air Force Wife
- Let the military move you! We did a DITY (PPM) move and it was the worst experience! We had a leaky truck cab (my husband had to wear his parka while driving!), we were super stressed with packing up our house, and it was just way more of a headache than it should have been. Save yourself the trouble, and let the movers take care of it all.
- Start budgeting as soon as your orders drop. The money your receive for the move should be enough in theory, but it’s always nice to have an emergency fund for those unexpected expenses.
We’re rollin’ right along to get out of here on Friday. Our route is mapped out, hotels are booked, and our “loading zone/do not pack zone” is filling up! We’re finishing up taking things off the walls and packing up all of our suitcases tonight. Jamie’s getting both cars weighed today (empty) so that we can get reimbursed for every pound we take on our own!
A little house update – Our realtor has truly worked her tail off to get things in order for closing a week from today. Almost losing this house has made Jamie and I realize just how excited we are about this particular place, and we are so thankful that the responsible people are getting things in order before this place is officially our financial responsibility. We so loved our first home together in Tennessee, but this house has so much more room for us to spread out and enjoy all the special touches previous owners have done to the home. Ah, I’m so ready to get there!
Question – What’ve you done to make your house really feel like your home?